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THE ROSIE EFFECT by Graeme Simsion, Review: A little less Disney

Graeme Simsion’s The Rosie Project was an international publishing phenomenon, with more than a million copies sold in over forty countries around the world. Now he returns with the highly anticipated sequel, The Rosie Effect.

The Rosie Effect Synopsis:

The Rosie Effect by Graeme Simsion

‘We’ve got something to celebrate,’ Rosie said.

I am not fond of surprises, especially if they disrupt plans already in place. I assumed that she had achieved some important milestone with her thesis. Or perhaps she had been offered a place in the psychiatry-training programme. This would be extremely good news, and I estimated the probability of sex at greater than 80%.

‘We’re pregnant,’ she said.

Don Tillman and Rosie Jarman are now married and living in New York. Don has been teaching while Rosie completes her second year at Columbia Medical School. Just as Don is about to announce that Gene, his philandering best friend from Australia, is coming to stay, Rosie drops a bombshell: she’s pregnant.

In true Tillman style, Don instantly becomes an expert on all things obstetric. But in between immersing himself in a new research study on parenting and implementing the Standardised Meal System (pregnancy version), Don’s old weaknesses resurface. And while he strives to get the technicalities right, he gets the emotions all wrong, and risks losing Rosie when she needs him most.

The Rosie Effect is the charming and hilarious romantic comedy of the year. (Text Publishing)

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BOOK REVIEW

I adored Graeme Simsion’s debut novel The Rosie Project and have been eagerly awaiting this sequel The Rosie Effect.

In The Rosie Project Simsion introduced to the world one of the most endearing characters I have come across in literature – Don Tillman. For those that haven’t already had the pleasure of becoming acquainted with Don, my description of him after reading the first novel was ‘think Sheldon from The Big Bang Theory with a touch of Ben Stiller’s character in Meet the Parents and a good dollop of old world galantry’.

As you’d expect, this latest novel is filled with gems arising from Don’s interactions with New Yorkers on a daily basis.

Loud Woman laughed. Loudly. ‘He’s Rain Man! You know. Dustin Hoffman when he remembers all the cards. Dan’s the cocktail Rain Man.’

Rain Man! I had seen the film. I did not identify in any way with Rain Man, who was inarticulate, dependent and unemployable. A society of Rain Men would be dysfunctional. A society of Don Tillmans would be efficient, safe and pleasant for all of us.

But Graeme Simsion has taken things to a whole new level in this sequel.

The Rosie Effect is a little less ‘Disney’ than his first novel.

The Rosie Project was about Don’s pursuit of happiness, he had nothing to lose and everything to gain. In this novel, having found happiness beyond his wildest expectations, his challenge is not to lose it.

After the publication of the first novel, the Guardian said this about Simsion’s leading man,

The hero of The Rosie Project is one of those rare fictional characters destined to take up residence in the popular consciousness. Don Tillman, Graeme Simsion’s geeky, gawky geneticist, seems set to join Adrian Mole and Bridget Jones as a creation with a life beyond the final chapter.

I think it’s with The Rosie Effect that Simsion has achieved that.

Don’s increased confidence after his success in the wife project along with the New York setting has broadened the scope of Don’s interaction with characters from all walks of life. Simsion has taken full advantage of these elements to both hilarious and very meaningful effect.

Don tackles the impending birth the only way he knows how, he sets up a project. He conducts research and seeks advice from those he meets on how to be the best father possible. As you can imagine, this research (e.g. his study of childrens behaviour) in our safety conscious and politically correct society yields much comedic farce, as do his well-intentioned deceptions (to reduce Rosie’s stress levels). But it’s in Don’s interactions with his ‘boys club’ that Simsion cultivates unanticipated depth of character and growth in both his leading man and returning ensemble cast.

While this novel could easily be read as a standalone – despite the character complexities Simsion’s prose remains very accessible – I strongly recommend reading The Rosie Project first to fully experience the wonderful character development. Then I urge you to read The Rosie Effect.

The Rosie Effect is destined to be another bestseller for Graeme Simsion.

While that outcome is not always deserving of sequels, in this case it truly is. In addition to delivering another laugh-out-loud page turner, Simsion has taken Don Tillman to another, very meaningful level. The popularity and deeper appreciation of the value of characters ‘other than average’ is a wonderful thing.

*Also, my initial reservations about the news Columbia has optioned the movie rights to The Rosie Project have been assuaged by the fact that Simsion has got the screenwriting gig on the project. This gives me genuine hope that the big screen adaptation will retain the spirit of the characters I have come to know and love.

UPDATE:

  • Graeme spoke candidly about there being plenty of people that didn’t like The Rosie Effect and his future plans for the Don Tillman character in a Brisbane Writers Festival session I was lucky enough to attend. Read full article.
  • We have since also had the pleasure of reading the triumphant final instalment in this much-loved trilogy, The Rosie Result.

BOOK RATING: The Story 4.5 / 5 ; The Writing 5 / 5 — Overall 4.75

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Genre: Humour, Drama, Romance, Literature

About the Author, Graeme Simsion

Graeme Simsion worked as a computer operator, programmer and database specialist before founding a consulting business in 1982. By the time he sold Simsion Bowles & Associates in 1999, it had grown to some seventy staff in three cities. Graeme had built an international reputation in data management and written the standard text on data modelling. Until the success of The Rosie Project enabled him to concentrate on his writing, he continued to deliver seminars around the world.

Graeme is a founder of Pinot Now, a wine importer and distributor and Roy’s Antiques in Melbourne. He recently resigned from his position as a Senior Research Fellow at Melbourne University. He is married to Anne, a professor of psychiatry who writes erotic fiction. They have two children.

In 2007, Graeme completed his PhD in information systems and enrolled in the professional screenwriting course at Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology. He has made a number of short films and his screenplay, The Rosie Project, won the Australian Writers Guild / Inscription Award for Best Romantic Comedy Script in 2010. While waiting for The Rosie Project to be produced, he turned it into a novel. In June 2012 this won the Victorian Premier’s award for an unpublished fiction manuscript.

Graeme Simsions’ personal website

Other reviews of The Rosie Effect

Goodreads, DearAuthor, The BookBag, WritersEdit, NPR

* My receiving this paperback from Text Publishing in no way hindered my the expression of my honest opinions in this review.